According to Russia’s State Statistics Committee, GDP grew in the first eleven months of 1997 by 0.3 percent over the same period in 1996. The Russian government’s proudest achievement in 1997 was its continued success in curbing inflation. Consumer-price inflation fell to 11.3 percent last year, well within the government’s 11.8 percent target and down almost half from the 1996 figure of 21.8 percent. The government is forecasting 5.7 percent in 1998. (Itar-Tass, January 5)
The International Monetary Fund’s board of directors is expected to decide at a meeting due to be held today to free the latest $700 million tranche of its $10.2-billion extended Fund facility to Russia. Payment was delayed in November 1997 because IMF officials were unhappy with Russia’s failure to improve its tax collection performance. As a result, the IMF lent Russia a total of $2.1 billion last year, instead of the anticipated total of $3.5 billion. The IMF is still unhappy about the government’s inability to raise taxes but is believed to have decided that the overriding need today is to support Russia’s economy at a time when it has been badly buffeted by the upheaval on emerging markets worldwide. The IMF is, however, understood to have reduced its earlier prediction that Russia will be able to achieve 2 percent economic growth this year. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais is still sticking to his 2 percent prediction, but the IMF has, like the OECD, reduced its forecast to 1 percent at best. But, in a sign of continuing confidence in the Russian government’s determination to put its house in order, the IMF has reportedly decided to stop conducting its own monitoring of Russian statistics and to rely in the future on the work of the State Statistics Committee. The Committee has had a great deal of international help in recent years to help it to improve its performance.
Illegal Drug Use and Related Crimes Up in Russia.